“The Tenth Sinkansas Symposium 2012, Topaz” Carlsbad, USA and Art & Antique fair “TEFAF” Maastricht, The Netherlands

March 22, 2012 | No Comments

The Tenth Sinkansas Symposium is on it’s way! And it look likes to me that it will become an absolute beauty …starting with coffee & donuts from 7.30 onwards! It’s clear you’ ve got to be an early bird…

The Tenth Annual Sinkankas Symposium convenes on  Saturday, April 21, with topaz being the featured gemstone for 2012.  Co-sponsored by the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society and GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the event’s venue will again be the Robert Mouawad Campus and GIA world headquarters in Carlsbad, California.

This year’s roster of contributors, each authorities in their respective disciplines, will be introduced by keynote speaker D. B. Hoover.  Known for his reference volume, “Topaz” (Butterworth–Heinemann, 1993), Dr. Hoover will speak on the “Historical Transmutations of Topaz,” examining ancient texts about the terms that he believes may have been applied to the mineral known today as topaz and speculating on its use as a gemstone in Classical antiquity. Presentations will be made by regular Sinkankas Symposium contributors John Koivula, George Rossman and William “Skip” Simmons.  GIA’s John Koivula will present a pictorial tour of “The Microworld of Topaz,” in which he discusses the internal features that attest to the gem host’s paragenesis and provide tell-tale evidence of treatment.  Dr. Rossman, McMillan Professor of Mineralogy at Caltech, Pasadena, will discuss color in natural and treated topaz, leading the audience on an odyssey into the gem’s atomic structure.  Dr. Simmons will travel from the University of New Orleans for a repeat appearance to present “Topaz Mineralogy” this year. Attendees can look forward to a reliably lucid and entertaining lecture, which has come to be known for its animated graphics and very animated speaker.

Distinguished Research Fellow at the GIA laboratory in Carlsbad, Dr. James E. Shigley returns to the Sinkankas Symposium for a second engagement, this time to discuss worldwide localities of gem topaz.  GIA’s director of gem identification services, Shane F. Mc Clure, will speak on “The Treatments of Topaz,” an important topic in the gem trade.  Local lapidary artist Meg Berry, a frequent Sinkankas Symposium presenter, will show step-by-step her process of carving topaz from gem rough to fashioned, polished carving in “Cutting Topaz.”  This year, Robert Weldon, Manager of Photography and Laboratory Publications at GIA, will present an historical narrative, “How Brazilian Bandeirantes Blazed Trails to Topaz – and other Gems,” illustrated with his beautiful photographic images.  Inimitable raconteur of minerals Bill Larson is slated to provide a pictorial tour of topaz specimens in a range of colors from localities around the world.

If you would like to read more about the speakers, their biographies and the abstracts of the lectures they will give, please take a look at the very well up-dated web-site (see direct link Sinkansas Symposium first paragraph). By this I give you also the direct link to the register form.

Exact information you need for now:

Date/Time: April 21, 2012 Badging, coffee and donuts, 7:30 – 9:00 AM. Symposium begins at 9:00 AM sharp.
Venue: GIA (Gemological Institute of America) World Headquarters and The Robert Mouawad Campus 5345 Armada Drive Carlsbad, CA 92008 USA S. Tasaki Student Lecture and Graduation Hall
Registration fees and deadlines Registration opens to All officially on March 15 and closes on April 13. No on-site registration permitted. Registration before April 1 – USD 85.00/person. Registration after April 1 – USD 95.00/person. Registration closed on April 13, 2012.  No exceptions.
For inquiries about space/availability, please contact Anne Schafer at agate.annie2@gmail.com or 1 858-586-1637.

The other beautiful annual event I would like to highlight is the art & antique fair ‘TEFAF’, held in Maastricht (The Netherlands) until the end of this coming weekend (25th March2012).

My absolute jeweller treasure this year ‘Didier Ltd. from London, stand number: showcase F. They have such an unique jewellery collection by post-war artists. Here on the photograph my personal absolute favorite, the hair comb of Alexander Calder.

Memento Mori and Mourning jewellery

February 29, 2012 | No Comments

Like several of the other subjects I once spoke about also this one is known since ancient times. Memento mori jewellery do exist since Roman times and revived in the late Middle Ages, but combined with Christian teaching on the need to live a good life.

These both sensitive subject are beautifully described in the book ‘Rings, Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty’, by Diana Scarbrick, wherein a complete chapter is devoted to ‘Memento mori and memorial rings’.

In Roman times subjects like skeletons, skulls, butterflies and most frequent Cupid-like figures holding a torch of life with the flame extinguished are the common symbols used in memento mori images of those days. Later on cross bones, rotated bezels and other symbols were added to memento mori jewellery. By the mid-17th century the memento mori ring had merged with the memorial ring marking the death of an individual, identifiable by the black enamel, initials and dates, and coat of arms, transforming them from exhortations to godly living into memorials of people. During the 18th century the ritual of mourning was scrupulously respected, it was a mark of homage paid to the institution on which society was founded, namely the family. The astonishing ‘Harley Memorial ring’, commemorating their son, is for me by far the most splendid example I’ve ever seen for showing the grief towards a beloved deceased’.
Like with so many other surprising details Diana Scarbrick tells about the white enamelled hoop, instead of black, meaning that the deceased was unmarried. As well as the fact the memento mori iconography was also used in wedding rings, intended to remind a prosperous couple of the vanity of the riches.
For me one of the most awe-inspiring memento mori ring designs is made by French Court jeweller Gilles L’Egaré in 1663: there are skulls round the sides of the bezel some with bat wings, others crowned with laurel, supported on a hoop decorated with all implements -spade, pick etc.- used by a grave digger. Personally I was very surprised that I could find this drawing (from Scarbricks book) at the online research collection database of the British Museum! Amazing, eight pages of this book, ‘Livre des ouvrages d’orfèvrerie, 1663’ are visible for free. This specific ring is one of the rings on the drawing above right in the database. Enjoy it! ..and don’t forget to enlarge the print image to see the details perfectly.

On my photo-stream you are able to view photos and drawings of the staggering plaited mourning hair jewels, like bracelets and brooches and pendant earrings.

The books I would like to recommend are:

‘Rings, jewelry of power, love and loyalty’, by Diana Scarbrick, €45, ISBN: 978-0-500-51364-4. I hope that my admiration for this book became clear in the above text. If not, then I have failed enormously. This book is unique and admirable!
An Introduction to ‘Sentimental Jewellery’ by Shirley Bury, for the Victoria & Albert Museum, ISBN 0-11-290417-3, GBP 5.-. This recommendation because it was my first acquaintance to this subject at the time I studied jewellery and having a Victorian mourning ring in front of me.

The ‘Illustrated Dictionary of symbols in Eastern and Western Art’, by James Hall is the English variant of the Durch “Hall’s Iconografisch handboek’ (Dutch version ISBN 90-74310-05-2). This recommendation because it’s simply indispensable for everyone who likes it to see more than just the picture.

‘Serpentina, Snake Jewellery from around the World’, until 26 February in Pforzheim

February 14, 2012 | No Comments

Until 26th February this month the exhibition ‘Serpentina, Snake Jewellery from around the World’ is on display at the Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim (The Jewellery museum), Germany. Accompanying this exhibition there’s an extremely interesting beautiful book written by Fritz Falk, which I would like to discuss on my blog today.As you know I’m impressed by jewellery from the beginning of mankind up to the extraordinary contemporary ones nowadays, coming from all over the world. No wonder that I love this book. Fritz Falk, former director of the Schmuck museum Pforzheim, is the guest curator of this exhibition and the writer of this book. My goodness what a beautiful theme he has chosen and what an impressive result! It’s both awe inspiring and breath-taking! There is no other way for me to describe this book.It felt to me that Fritz Falk literally took me by the hand as I walked through this ‘Snake Landscape’! A walk which started in Egyptian times passing the Romans, the Greek, the Vikings and so on through the 18th and 19th century, with a pit-stop in the amazing Art Nouveau up to contemporary extraordinay snake jewellery. During this whole bird flight we passed by in Africa, Europe, Asia and North & South America with beautiful photos. Meanwhile telling in a fascinating way about the meaning of the snake in many civilisations and throughout all epochs of history, the influence of  religions on it, historical details, myths and legends, its designs and symbolic values. At least I have to admit that I never was aware of the so many (!) symbolic values the snake stands for. To give you a little impression; new life, rebirth, death and decay, loaded with both positive and negative connotations it appears equally as a creative and a destructive force, as a phallic symbol with the libido and uninhibited sexuality, a symbol of healing, evil, kindly and wise, cosmic energy, protection, blessings, royalty, as a symbol of trade and commerce, and don’t forget Asclepius (the professional symbol of physicians and pharmacists) and many more. I’ve enjoyed the several ‘jewellery side roads’ I’d never seen before. So, if you are in the neighbourhood of Pforzheim these days be sure to visit the exhibition! If you are not able to do so, like me, the next best thing to do is to purchase the book! I’m sure you will constantly open it until you’ve  finished the whole text and can dream of each and every image. To see jewellery from the perspective of  ‘the snake from those early days onwards’ was to me a true refreshing eye opener. (ISBN 978-3-89790-354-8).
The only disadvantage I noticed is that each left page is written in German and the right pages in English, but after a little while you get used to it…and in the end my German certainly improved!…as well as my English…Thanks to Pete, my ‘chocolate-editor’, for explaining me in detail that a ‘Schmuck museum’ is completely impossible for all my American readers :) !

Gem-Session 3 “Inclusions”

January 29, 2012 | No Comments

Gemstones are beloved and costly, not only because of their colour and play of light within, but also because of their durability and rarity. Inclusions in impressive gemstones are often  seen as ‘pollution’ or as a ‘blot’, but to gemmologists inclusions may tell so much about a gemstone and even in unique situations they are the true added value to a stone.
Inclusions are not ‘just trash’ in a stone besides differentiating the value between flawless diamonds and diamonds with small inclusions, they confirm the authenticity of a stone and can sometimes make a stone even unique. Think about the exceptional appearance of an emerald, wherein the specific area with the typical inclusions is expressed by ‘le jardin’ ( ‘the garden’).
To give you an impression of information that inclusions can give about the authenticity and origin of the stone I will give you the example of diamond, text & photos by Hanco Zwaan .
Inclusions and the origin of diamond
Diamond is a crystallised form of carbon that in principle can only be formed under high pressure (and heat) and therefore can only originate within the earth, at depths of 150 kilometres or more in the upper part of the earth mantle (with typical ideal pressure and temperature: 60 kilo bar and 1000 degrees Celsius). At lower pressure, carbon will crystallise as the mineral graphite.
Diamonds can be formed in various types of mantle rocks, of which ‘harzburgite’ and ‘eclogite’ are the two most important ones. The crystals in photo 1A and B are both olivine inclusions, which are often seen in diamonds. These inclusions show that the specific diamond is formed in harzburgite, which largely consists of olivine. Not only do these inclusions tell that the diamond is formed at great depth in the earth’s mantle but they also confirm that the diamond is very old. Dating on inclusions on diamonds is formed in harzburgite revealed ages mostly around 3 billion years old. Diamonds formed in eclogite are usually much younger.
Diamonds are not stuck in the deep mantle. They are driven upwards together with magma (molten rocks) and therefore they are now found close to the earth’s crust in unique/rare volcanic rocks, like kimberlite or lamproïte. These rocks are far younger than the diamonds, but are situated in very old continental deposits. For example, like in South-Africa and Australia, where amongst them exists mantle rocks of more over than 2,5 billion years old.
For the diamond to traverse its way to the earth’s crust, a volcanic eruption must have occurred wherein the magma with high speed is pushed upwards through cracks of the earth’s crust. In case of kimberlite the distance is more than 150 kilometres, by other magma’s less than 60 kilometres. Herewith the ‘surroundings pressure’ around the traversed diamond decreased. During decreasing pressure olivine will extend faster than diamonds. This causes a lot of stress within the diamond that leads to many stress releasing cracks in the surrounding of the olivine inclusions. These cracks could never healed perfectly, because under less pressure it’s impossible to form diamond, but only graphite. That’s why the cracks are coloured black. This process is called internal graphitisation in a diamond.

Summing up the inclusions of photo 1a and 1b give a unique view of time and place wherein this diamond is formed and show the speed in which the diamond was transported from great depth into the direction of the earth’s surface.

For more beautiful immages of inclusions in diamonds, please take a look at ‘All About Gemstones’.Another totally different great example  is Amber
It is important to first note that gems can be divided into organic (like coral, jet, amber, pearls, ivory etc.)  and inorganic (crystalline gemstones) materials. Amber, a fossilised resin, and the younger variety Copal are sometimes filled with interesting insects.

Lately scientists discovered a piece of amber originating from Canada more over than 70 million years old and probably capturing dinosaur and bird feathers! The scientists described the collection in ‘Science Magazine’, where you can buy the download of the article. For a simple  overview of different stages of trapped dinosaur feathers in amber I would advice you to visit the photo stream of  Discover Magazine . 

If you would like to learn more about gemstones visit the site of Gem-A, they frequently organise events, workshops & seminars. 

Museum recommendation:
The mineral and gemstone collection at the Natural History Museum in London.
Serpentina ‘Die Schlange im Schmuck der Welt’ (Snake Jewellery from around the World), Schmuck museum Pforzheim. Until 26th February 2012.

Book recommendation:‘Gemstones, Understanding, Identifying, Buying’, by Keith Wallis. Hardback & 1000 colour illustrations. ISBN: 9781851496303, $20.

I would like to thank Dr. Hanco Zwaan of The Netherlands Gemmological Laboratory for his valuable input and suggestions, and for the use of the microphotosgraphs of the diamonds.

“A Talk with Terhi Tolvanen”, Contemporary Art Jewellery Maker

December 29, 2011 | No Comments

“Nature & Culture, Rough & Elegance, Raw & Modesty” the work of Terhi Tolvanen in a nutshell.This time I had the honour to have lunch with Terhi Tolvanen from Finland, working in France and easily speaking Dutch because she lived for eighteen years in Amsterdam where she still spends a lot of her time at her ‘Pied-a-terre’ and clearly feels at home!
After finishing her silversmithing study at the Lahti Design Institute in Finland Terhi planned to go for ‘one year’ to the Rietveld Academy of Art in Amsterdam. But stayed for six years connected to that academy, inclusive the Sandberg Institute for two years, and just ‘never left’. 
The Rietveld Academy of Art became a unique experience and a beautiful match to the technical and ‘metal’ background of Terhi. I asked her to what  “it” was that had such an impact on her to decide to stay at the Rietveld Academy? Without any hesitation, she answered clearly “The Dutch Thing”! Of course she then had to explain to me what she meant by that expression. With a smile on her face she easily clarified this by saying “the conceptual way of thinking in combination of feeling free, so free, so immensely free to make exactly that which you want to say. It took me one year to understand this way of thinking, but then I was fully caught by it”. The last two years at Sandberg Institute was the time where everything (skills, vision and interest) came together. It was exactly during that period she started to make jewellery. Her personal vision is identified by the concept which is based on the idea of the impact of culture on nature.
What does your work process look likes?
In her own words, Terhi explained:
“Over the years I have accepted it as it is, it’s a strange one…I know. It starts with an idea in my mind, almost never making drawings or sketches, starting to make the object with my hands. During that process it almost always (!) seems that parts that are made for a specific piece end to become parts of an entirely other piece of jewellery I’ll make. As you can imagine it’s a very slow process, but that’s the way it is. I just need time to think it all over very well. It’s not only about ‘what I would like to make’, but also ‘how to reach it technically that the piece will be wearable’. Probably due to my craftsmanship background I’m destined to make wearable pieces. A necklace has to fit very well. Which means that it can only be made link by link on a ‘model dol’.
The same counts for brooches which can become sculptural, but still they have to fit the way I meant it. This implies that how to fix on clothe is one thing to think of very well”. Looking at her collection it’s easy to see and feel her Scandinavian background. The natural love for nature combined with an extraordinary feeling to express culture to the object in such a modest way is something that I adore.  Not only in her latest collection, but also in her former pieces. Like ‘The ‘Picnic-branch brooch’, dating 2007, which is covered with a motive based on the pattern of the typical hand-towel & the feeling of a pizza baker and picnic-cloth at one time!Due to her craftsmen background I can assure you that objects fit in a lovely way, Amazing! Terhi let me try ‘Chaine Petite’. What a unique oppurtunity to wear a necklace made of pieces of branches set with gemstones and beautiful rough wooden links and clasp. Each and every link with finials of silver or other metal, that amazingly fits perfectly around my neck in one second and gives me the feeling of never wanting to leave me again. Personally I’m so touched by the immense eye and attention for detail accompanied by her amazing feeling for nature and culture influence. The way she works it out, so sturdy, rough and sensitive at the same time. Each and every detail worked out exactly the way it has to be. What a quality!
List of up-coming events, lectures & exhibitions:
December 2011 & spring 2012, Terhi will teach in Finland at the Saimaa University of Applied Sciences (Master of Culture and Arts, Degree Programme in Cultural Entrepreneurship, visual arts)  in Lappeenranta, during this academic year their focus is on jewellery art.
Untill 5 February 2012, Pieces will be on display at Unleashed! Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Nederland.
21 January 2012, ‘FrontRoom Presentation’, at Galerie Rob Koudijs, Amsterdam. 
11 May untill 23 September 2012,Pieces will be on display at  Unchained, Jewelry without limits. Museum Bellerive, Zürich, Switzerland.
May 2012, “Collect” at Saatchi Gallery London, pieces will be on display at Galerie Rob Koudijs.
March 2013, Solo exhibition at Galerie Rob Koudijs, Amaterdam.
Terhi’s book recommendations:
‘Georg Dobler Schmuck Jewellery, 1980-2010’, €30, ISBN: 978-3-89790-330-2. Terhi recommends this book because of the impressive big gemstones which are used in his jewellery.‘Hanging Around, Manon van Kouswijk’, ISBN: 978-90-804085-5-5. “It’s a great research, a photo collection about ‘pearlschains’ in landscapes and other ‘pearl’ structures in the world as a basis to her own work” says Terhi.
‘Jewellery from Natural Materials’, by Beth Legg, ISBN: 978-07-136827-6-2. “Different jewellery makers for each material”.
And last but not least Terhi recommends the book ‘Dead or Alive’, MAD Museum NY, ISBN: 978-1-890385-20-0. ‘Although it’s not a jewellerybook it’s an absolute wanna have!’, it’s a book of artists whom’s sculptures and installations with natural materials. 

The museum recommendations by Terhi:
Kiasma, Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki, Finland.
Mineral Collection, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris.
The Gulbékian Museum in Lissabon, of course because of the awesome René Lalique collection.
Tate Modern, London. Although there’s no jewellery it’s so beautiful!

This article is published with the courtesy of Terhi Tolvanen, 2011. 



Margriet Sopers

Margriet Sopers, FGA

Having a diploma in jewellery, FGA and a propaedeutic of the Academy of Art followed-up by interesting years as a jewellery expert at Sotheby's & Gemeentelijke Krediet Bank, as well as being a member for years of the Society of Jewellery Historians, I am glad to share with you today's world of jewellery.

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